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The Future is Coming Faster Than You Think

By Brian Brennan

y now I’m sure every hot rodder is aware of harnessing the sun’s natural power through the use of solar panels. Solar panels on homes are no longer the sole idea of the Jetsons. Nowadays we see homes, businesses, and schools all over the country showing off their own solar panels capturing this “free” energy from the sun. While nothing is free, the end result is a better way to harness energy.

One only has to take a drive into the country or, here in the western United States, the open desert and see immense solar panel farms that yield electrical energy from the sun as its crop. While this energy is meant to be used to run industries as well as our homes, a growing portion is being siphoned off to power our electric cars. Yep, the time is rapidly coming when we will all be driving electric cars. Calm down and don’t get your boxers in a bunch. Solar panel–generated electricity is here to stay. And this is what’s driving (literally) all of our electric-powered or hybrid cars. You can’t deny that an electrical vehicle can accelerate at blinding speeds and is fun to drive–they are! This technology is taking us deeper and deeper into the development of modern, sustainable energy. Something all of us need to recognize and need to do–regardless. Yes, electric-powered hot rods are already here. By the time you read this editorial I will have come back from the SEMA show and will have seen the latest builds featuring electric-powered hot rods. But there is still time to enjoy a rumble or two.

How many of you have paid attention to the new ’23 Corvette with its latest LT6 iteration of small-block power? The Corvette Z06 is powered by an LT6 engine that is the largest flat-plane crankshaft V-8 in the world.

Oh, did I mention that it too is the most powerful naturally aspirated production V-8 showing off what is reported to be 670 hp at 8,400 rpm. It produces 460 lb-ft of torque at 6,300 rpm, which is respectable, but not a record setter. Interesting note on exhaust. Since hot rodders love their headers, you have to take a look at the new Corvette’s LT6 exhaust—four into two into one. The “upside down” headers are cool to look at and should give some hot rod builder an idea or two. If you’ve never heard a flat-plane crank–powered motor you are in for a treat. The throaty rumble is simply music to any hot rodder’s ears and you will find the responsiveness of the power to be addicting and thoroughly inspiring.

Now, if you are into the basic big big-block Chevrolet Performance is offering a 632ci ZZ632/1000 crate engine designed for drag racing and not meant to be used on the street. (Yeah, right!) This 10.4L big big-block is rated at 1,004 hp and 876 lb-ft of torque on pump gas without the use of any supercharging. Sounds like the perfect V-8 to drop into a highboy roadster; OK, that may be a bit much. (No it isn’t.) However, it would make a great motor for any Tri-Five or any of the ’60s-era fullsize cars. (Currently there is a ZZ572/740R Deluxe, which is rated at 727 hp and 680 lb-ft but that’s old news and not nearly enough power.)

But let us jump back to what Chevrolet is really dialing in for the future. Recently, yes at SEMA, Chevrolet revealed the three electric motors that will be featured across the upcoming lineup of electric models. It is a co-op program with Honda and the cars will be built on the new Ultium battery-powered platform.

The three motors come in three power levels and will be mixed and matched as required by each model. The trio includes a 180kW motor intended for front-wheel-drive applications, a 255kW motor that can be used in the front or rear, and a 62kW auxiliary motor. Look to the GMC Hummer EV with its 255kW output (derived from two motors in the rear, one in the front) that is to yield a whopping 1,000 hp.

You have to admit that’s hot rod horsepower. The naturally aspirated motor isn’t dead but there are other ways to get our horsepower fix and the electric motor is here to stay. You might not have one in your garage today but it’s in your future–and mine too!

Modern Rodding
VOLUME 2 • ISSUE 15 • 2021